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10 Tips on Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

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Have you ever walked in your home and something was just out of whack?  A stench takes your breath away when you walk into a room. You know what we are talking about … your home just stinks! Keeping your home smelling fresh can be simple with a few tips.

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Open Your Windows

That’s right, start by opening your windows to let the fresh air in. A good cleaning out of the house with fresh air is the perfect step to removing odors.

Add Fresh Flowers

If you do not have allergies and do have a few extra dollars, practice what some European countries practice. Get yourself some fresh flowers. Fresh flowers can brighten up a room but they also make a room smell so beautiful. Choose your favorite scented flower and keep in your favorite room. Lilacs and roses are great flowers that have vibrant scents.

Change Your Air Filters

Fresh air starts with the air flowing through your ventilation system. To have clean air and to keep your home healthy, remember to regularly change your air filters. Depending on the type of air filters you have, you will change them every 2 – 6 months. We recommend changing them at least four times in the year.

Add Scented Fragrances

Adding candles or plug ins or some other scented item to your home can step up and remove the stink from your abode. There are so many scented items to make your home smell good. Try using oils and reeds. Even natural fragrances like gently simmering herbs and cinnamon on stovetop with some water can make a home smell homey.

Clean Your Trash Cans

We quickly throw out trash and use bags to store it, thinking that these bags can protect the cans they cover. But our cans carry odors from our coffee grounds, left over foods, boxes and containers from yogurt and milk. These items carry odors that stay with the trash cans. Take the time and wash out the trash cans regularly, and practice using baking soda in your bags to limit the odors.

Run a Cleaning Solution in Your Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals naturally crush food to allow the flow of water in your sinks. But food creates odors. And therefore, your sinks can smell like a trash can. Using a disposal cleaner that you buy in the store is simple to run in your garbage disposal. Also using some white vinegar or ¼ of a whole lemon to clean the disposal is a good thing. To sharpen the disposal blades, add a few ice cubes to the disposal and run the disposal.

Clean your Washer

Fine smelling clothes can smell good on our bodies and in our closets. But foul, musty, and mildew scents can exist if you have a washing machine that has not been cleaned. Simply running some vinegar in a washing cycle without any clothes can clean any odors from the washer that can cause mildew like scents.

Run a solution through Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are another area of the homes that have lingering odors from caked on food and dirty dishes. You can buy specific dishwasher cleaners from your store and run per the directions. Or like with the washing machine, use vinegar in the dishwasher to run a full empty cycle. Once you have run the cycle, you will have a fresh clean smelling dishwasher ready to take on any grime.

Clean Your Microwave

Like dishwashers, microwaves can carry ongoing smells from food. Food can also splatter on the walls of the microwave. So time to wipe down the inside of the microwave. Using a bowl of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar, place it in the microwave. Turn the microwave on high for 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the oven. Now a fresh smelling microwave.

Give your Pets a Bath

We love our pets and they are family. But our pets have fur and dander and pets do not take showers and baths regularly like we do. They go outside in the rain and sun to play in the grass. All fun things for our pets, but our pets then come in our homes and our homes can smell like a wet dog. Giving our pets baths regularly and brushing their fur will help keep our homes fresh and clean.

 

Posted on HomeZada

3 Home Upgrade Options for a $3,000 Budget

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Get more impact from your next home improvement project with one of these ideas, each with a $3,000 price tag.

The top priority for most buyers when house hunting is function. While charm and character go a long way, they can’t overcome a bad layout, lack of storage, or a poor use of materials.

To really love the home you’re in and increase potential buyers’ interest, choose updates that will make living in your home easier.

For the small renovation budget of $3,000, you could complete any one of the projects below to boost the appeal, functionality and value of your home.

Add a covered entry

Many homes, especially older ones, don’t have a covered front door. Adding cover will not only greatly increase the curb appeal of your home, but also make your life easier. Say goodbye to fumbling for your keys in the rain with an armful of groceries.

A covered entry also offers guests a warm welcome, providing shelter while they wait at the door.

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Create an open floor plan

Much new home construction today makes use of an open floor plan. A home where one room flows into the next is convenient for everyday family life, and is also a huge advantage when entertaining guests.

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Creating an open floor plan in your home may be as simple as removing a wall. For a small investment, you can hire a contractor to take down a wall, creating a larger, more open space.

Homes with open floor plans often feel larger, which is a great selling point.

Upgrade to natural stone countertops

Whether you’re loving your home or selling it, one place upgrades have a major impact is the kitchen. Upgrading standard countertops can do wonders for the style of your kitchen, and also make the room more functional.

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Natural stone countertops like granite are among the most durable on the market. Heavily resistant to scratches and high temperatures, they can stand up to anything you can cook up.

You can’t go wrong with any of these affordable updates. Each will make your home work better for your needs, and will be selling points for any future buyers.

 

Posted by Lindsay Jackman on Zillow

Buying this Spring? Be Prepared for Bidding Wars

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Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:

“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:

“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”

In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:

  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Boise, ID
  • Madison, WI
  • Omaha, NE

Bottom Line

In today’s competitive atmosphere, you need a professional on your side who knows your exact market conditions and can help you take the steps you need to be able to secure your new home!

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Renting or Buying… Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage

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There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained this month in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:

While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.23% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Posted by The KCM Crew

Housing Market Expected to “Spring Forward”

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Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 datessellers listed their homes in 2016 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2017, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

8 Proven Ways to Increase the Resale Value of Your Home

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Making your home more attractive to prospective buyers can be as simple as sprucing up the kitchen with a new renovation or refreshing the decor.

Heed these 8 suggestions from real estate pros to ensure your property gets the highest possible price.

Little things mean a lot when it comes to selling your home and getting a great price for it. But if everything counts and you have only so much time and money to invest, how do you know where to start to get your home for-sale ready and to fetch the best price?

The good folks at Consumer Reports National Research Center set out to answer just that, with an online survey of 303 real estate professionals from around the country.

As we head into the hottest selling season and with 5.3 million homes expected to change hands this year, use some or all of these strategies to help you leverage all you can against the competition.

  1. Stage and declutter your home

One of the panel members Consumer Reports consulted was the former executive producer for This Old HouseMassachusetts realtor and renovation consultant, Bruce Irving. Bruce was previously interviewed by Oprah protégé, Nate Berkus, and The New York Times called him “the house whisperer.”

“Do all the work necessary to make your property look good, not through expensive changes but through excellent staging,” says Irving. “Your agent should be able to provide proper advice and even bring in a professional.”

That means clearing out your clutter.

“I have a gal who I send into listings to declutter and depersonalize for sellers and just tidy things up using the sellers’ own possessions for the most part,” says Karen Wallace, an agent with Lyon Real Estate, located in Auburn, CA.

Tara Miller of Tarabell’s Designs in Portland, OR, does just that: she helps homeowners and agents stage their houses for maximum sales appeal.

Miller points out that people who don’t keep up on needed repairs end up spending the most when it comes time to prepare a home for sale.

“It’s remarkable what regular home maintenance, cleanliness, and minimizing clutter in your everyday life can do for you when it comes time to sell.”

She also notes that staging a home is very different from designing or decorating. “It’s a tough thought, but not everyone likes your pets, hobbies, sports teams, or religion.”

  1. Clean it up!

“If it’s dirty, it will not sell — even if it’s a great place,” says Kathy Partak, a realtor with Select Estate Properties in Auburn, CA.

In fact, most of the agents we spoke to focused on overall cleanliness and space as the biggest factor in selling your home.

And cleanliness pays off, according to Consumer Reports: cleaning can deliver a 3% to 5% return on investment, and this is something you can do yourself.

When showing your home, Irving adds, “Raise window blinds, lower toilet seats — make sure the place looks at least as good as it would if you were having your boss over for dinner.”

  1. Enhance your curb appeal

First impressions sell your home. As soon as a potential buyer drives up to your house, they’re making judgments — and a messy yard or a broken mailbox could cost you.

“Exterior space is ‘free’ extra square footage and is so appealing to buyers,” says Wallace. “It pays to enhance it.”

But if your staging budget doesn’t include the outdoors, Partak suggests making the most of the walk from the car to the entry.

“Make it look nice from the curb with some easy potted or planted flowers to trim the walkway.”

  1. Pay attention to details

The details that you may believe are insignificant can turn out to be major selling points for your home. For Irving that includes everything from paint touch-ups throughout the house to a full redo of public rooms.

“Wash your windows, replace compact fluorescent bulbs with incandescent or halogen, and remove or minimize personal photographs,” he says.

If you have a small budget, Partak suggests upgrading to energy-efficient windows, and adding new appliances in the kitchen. “These are always the things that bring in more money.”

  1. Refresh your kitchen and bath

Don’t forget two of the the most important rooms in your home: the kitchen and bathroom. Consumer Reports estimates that you can increase your home’s value by as much as 7% through renovation.

If you don’t have renovations in your budget, Kristen Kohnstamm, principal broker and co-owner of Dunthorpe Properties, a luxury real estate firm in Portland, OR, recommends fresh paint, a low-hanging opportunity to freshen up your space and potentially boost your asking price.

Choose a neutral palette to increase the appeal to as many tastes as possible; buyers need to be able to easily visualize themselves living in the home, and bright colors might turn them off.

“The worst thing you can do is put lots of money into things like carpet, paint, and other aesthetics that a new homeowner will likely want to change,” says Kohnstamm.

  1. Invest in good photos

Make sure your real estate agent offers great photos that show your home in its best light when it comes time to list. Home buyers seeking a new place to live will see the pictures online before ever making a decision to visit.

And when it comes to open houses and showings, Irving suggests you “absent yourself” because sellers can sometimes get in the way of a sale by taking things too personally.

  1. Don’t DIY everything

Irving’s top tip includes a good finger-wagging at people who think they can DIY a home sale and still come out ahead.

“First and foremost, for correct pricing, widest and best marketing, and the highest price, hire a real estate agent,” says Irving.

  1. Try not to take it personally

Kohnstamm cautions first-time sellers to temper their emotions when it comes to the sale of their home. This won’t necessarily increase the value, but will speed up the sale.

“Whatever comments are [made] about your home, they’re never intended as a personal affront. Remember, everyone has different tastes, but clean and well-maintained never goes out of style.”

Image credit: flickr

 

Posted by Vanessa Nix Anthony on Trulia

8 Ways To Find Healthy Neighborhoods In Your City

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Neighborhoods that make it easy to go for a run or kick around a soccer ball could give your lifestyle a health boost.

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Your neighborhood could play a factor in your overall health. Here are some considerations to make during your house hunt.

From green space to traffic volume, the neighborhood in which you live could contribute to your health. Think about it: If your neighborhood lacks easily accessible areas for you to exercise, you’ll probably exercise less, at least outdoors. Just as the addition of playgrounds gives children a place to play, sidewalks, for example, can encourage you to get out and walk. And when you do spend time outside in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to get to know your neighbors, which adds to a feeling of community. So whether you’re shopping for a home for sale in Denver, CO, or Columbia, SC, here are some factors to weigh if a healthy neighborhood tops your list of must-haves.

1. Look for sidewalks and bike lanes

Being able to walk or bike for exercise or to conduct daily errands is good for you — plus, less traffic and air pollution means a healthier planet too. Even having access to public transportation can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, since there’s usually some walking to get to your bus stop or train station. “Safety and walkability to a vibrant mix of services, schools, and various modes of travel are keys,” says John Zinner, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Fellow with the U.S. Green Building Council.

2. Don’t underestimate a lush tree canopy

New developments often produce houses that dot every “i” and cross every “t” on most people’s home wish lists. But some new neighborhoods and developments end up with a sparse tree canopy. That’s too bad, because not only do trees often enhance property values, but they can also contribute to a healthy neighborhood. “Tree canopies cool spaces,” says Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, a California sustainable-landscaping firm. A cooler lot means your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard in the heat of summer. Those trees can also provide shade for your outdoor pursuits. But the best part just might be that greenery in general is good for you. “Lush, green spaces have been shown to decrease stress, even mitigating symptoms of PTSD and ADHD,” Aoyagi says.

3. Look for neighborhoods with greenways, community gardens, and trails

The more access you have to nature — and nature’s bounty — the healthier you’ll probably be. “Locating a healthy neighborhood has increasingly become a must-have for many buyers,” says Danielle Schlesier, a Boston, MA, agent. “I point [buyers] toward the community parks-and-recreation website. There, they can see if there are local farmers markets, community fitness programs, greenway trail maps, and dog parks available.” Another great tool to locate your favorite healthy amenities is the Live Well layer in Trulia Maps.

4. Observe neighborhood social connections and activity level

Having a sense of security and even happiness comes with being able to socialize with your neighbors. Visit the neighborhood you’re considering at various times of day to see if people are out and about. Are neighbors chatting out front? Jogging on neighborhood streets? Out walking their dogs or playing with the kids? All of these are positive signs that a neighborhood has a thriving, active, and close-knit community.

5. Scout out parks, sports courts, and places to play

The healthiest neighborhoods offer variety and versatility when it comes to recreation and active living. In addition to nature exploration resources like trails and greenways, look for neighborhoods that offer tennis or basketball courts, playgrounds, parks, fitness centers, and pools. You may have to pay for these extra amenities through homeowners’ association (HOA) fees, membership requirements, or simply higher home prices, but the ability to easily diversify your workouts can lead to greater health and fitness.

6. Go to a neighborhood association meeting

Mark your calendar for the next meeting of the neighborhood association or HOA in the areas you’re considering. In addition to meeting your potential neighbors, you could get an inside look at neighborhood concerns (such as safety issues or traffic congestion) and find out about future construction or plans for enhancements. You’ll also get a sense of how close-knit the community is. An active, positive group of neighbors working to continually improve their neighborhood can clue you in on future healthy upgrades coming to a neighborhood. Plus, if you’re trying to narrow down your options, going to a few of these meetings could help you decide where you’ll really feel at home.

7. Consider traffic volume

Limited traffic, both in volume and speed, can contribute to a healthy neighborhood. But what makes high traffic unhealthy, exactly? Noise, for one. The more traffic there is and the faster cars travel, the noisier the environment, which can affect your sleep and stress levels. There’s that pesky little pollution issue, for another. Plus, longer commutes due to higher traffic volumes can decrease your overall quality of life. Check what your possible commute could look like using the Commute layer in Trulia Maps.

8. Check to see if healthy essentials are within walking distance

Healthy neighborhoods incorporate plenty of ways to be active, but they also have essential services nearby, such as day care centers, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, a hospital, and urgent care. Easy access to affordable, nutritious food from supermarkets or farmers markets is important too — it’s even been associated with less obesity. And give your future new neighborhood bonus points if any of these essentials are within walking distance!

 

Posted by Laura Agadoni on Trulia